Friday Firesmith – Lost In Divorce

The porch swing was my first object lesson in divorce. Two friends of mine were splitting up, and I had known them both before they were married. They had two kids, and that’s when it sucks the most, and they slipped from getting a nice, quiet, easy, bloodless divorce to one that was sad, and it was ugly. They began to fight over money, then furniture, and then the damn porch swing, and the kids wound up watching their parents pay two divorce lawyers enough money to pay for a year of college in one day.

Get this: They didn’t even have a porch. The swing was in a storage shed.

I wound up with my sister’s two labs from her marriage. They’re giant dogs and they dig. I don’t like them very much but I am one of the few men who can say they got something out of a divorce they didn’t lose anything in.

I got off light and I know it. I lost one of the two trucks, the one she drove, and she had pretty much driven it into the ground anyway. The woman was hard on machines, I tell you. Other than that, there was some weirdness; she stole some CD’s that I knew she didn’t like or already had one of. She also lifted a drawing done by a friend of mine. I’m pretty sure she meant to destroy the drawing because it was a nude of a woman, and she was jealous of anything female and human. She also stole my yard rake.

Alcohol and I have had a lot of deep discussions about why a woman would take a yard rake, and why I didn’t say to myself when she and I were just living together, “That’s the type of woman that would take a man’s rake and never look back.” But that thought never surfaced before the rake went missing. And so I sat there one night, wondering at what point the woman thought, “My life sucks so bad I’ll take his rake, and that will show him.” But show him what? Rakes are relatively inexpensive things, like the CDs she took, and only the drawing couldn’t be replaced.

I made a list of the CDs she took and I replaced them, slowly.  I made a point of recovering the music I had lost, and I bought a new rake, a metal rake, one of the high-end yard rakes, that was gluten free and cordless, too.

None of this addressed the why. All the alcohol drowned the senses, numbed the feeling that I had been wronged, without looking the issue in the eye and asking the question of how someone I married morphed, somehow, into a rake stealer.

Just as the process of marriage, the ceremony, the public announcement of the union, the combining of possessions, the sharing of a bed and bodily fluids, makes two people one, the process of divorce divides. The lawyers, the paperwork, the public admission of defeat and giving up, the empty space, opens up a gap that is filled with petty feelings that rush into the vacuum. And rakes go missing.

What did you lose in your divorce?

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – The Road To The Wildlife

In front of my house, there is a driveway that runs through the front yard. It runs from east to west, true, from the paved road to my neighbor’s house by the lake, and we’ve shared it in perfect peace for over sixteen years now. He hunts, owns a lot of land around here for that reason, but I do not hunt, and so he’s happy about that. There’s a relative of his that owns some land out here, too, but we see him only very rarely, for he is even more reclusive than I. There is a ninety-five-year-old woman who is everyone’s aunt, and she lives in the house closest to the road, and she takes care of a man we all call “Uncle” but he’s pushing ninety himself. There’s a bevy of relatives who come to cook and clean for them, and to spend the night sometimes. But that wraps it up as far as human beings out here. I can go days without seeing anyone else if I choose to do so.

Back to the dirt driveway in front of my house. When my neighbor isn’t around, and mostly he isn’t, I use the dirt road to see who has come around during the night. I know all the dogs around here so I was surprised to find this track in the early morning dew.

I’ve got two Black Labs that are pushing over one hundred pounds, each, and this track was every bit as large as the ones they leave. But clearly, some very large dog passed through during the night. My neighbor, burly dude that he is, owns a toy poodle.

Large dogs aside, I’ve seen smaller canid tracks that had to be of a coyote and even smaller ones that must have been made by a fox. The Coyotes and I have formed a truce of sorts, and despite the misgivings of some humans, I intend to keep the peace as long as they do. The foxes come in two colors; both red and gray. I’ve seen more grays out here in sixteen years than I have reds, but the reds are always the most stunning to discover. (by the way, I discount the idea of the large dog track being a wolf)

Wild pigs and armadillos have dug in my yard on a regular basis, you know.

I caught a fleeting glimpse of a bobcat one night as I turned on the outside lights, and went out to look at the tracks but the cat left very little for me to see. They’re stealthy as hell, bobcats are, and I’ve seen two in sixteen years. Or the same one twice.

Once, there was a snake track, wide and winding, and I knew whatever it was, it nearly had to be venomous. But we’ve dealt with that before, too.

There have been many turtle tracks, odd looking things they are.

You can see a hole where the turtle dug a hole but didn’t lay eggs.

There have been two turtles that made an impression; the first is the one that made those tracks and was a soft shelled turtle. The other was a massive alligator snapping turtle who was not amused at the camera.

One alligator left tracks down the road. Just keep on keeping on, dude.

What’s the oddest wild animal that showed up at your place? (emus and peacocks do not count)

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Don’t Judge A Band By Its Cover

I don’t travel often and I don’t travel well. Just finding a pet sitter is a bitch because I have two pony-sized Black Labs, and I have two Pits. My normal sitter was out of town, the one someone loaned me bailed on me, and I have to go to to find someone, at the last moment, who would drive out to the middle of nowhere to feed four dogs and to spend some time with them. That turned out, in the end, to be the easy part. I found a woman who clearly loved dogs and the dogs loved her.

This was my first road trip with the woman I’ve been dating for a while now. We were invited to go see an Eagles cover band and hang out with her sister down in Florida. We started out well, but then I-75 locked down on us because of a wreck. “Right, get off this exit, we’ll go around,” this woman tells me and she digs down into her cell phone and starts navigating like a boss. We popped out of the backroads a half hour later in front of a major wreck and didn’t lose that much time at all. I bring this part up because of the next part.

We got terminally lost.

Siri and her GPS both agreed that we were to go left, turn right, turn right, turn right, and finally we discovered we were being sent in a circle that landed up in a part of the town that we decidedly didn’t want to be in. The venue was nowhere in sight. We arrived fifteen minutes deep into the concert, strangers had stolen our seats, and we were ushered into two empty seats behind a wooden wall that was a meter tall. The wall was there to prevent us from escaping and to keep my knees tucked against my chest.

The venue was an old high school auditorium and the sound system sucked. The drums were too loud, the vocals sounded tinny, and the place was filled to capacity with aging hippies who loved the Eagles back in the 70’s and 80’s. The audience was balding, fat, drunk, and wait, no, that was me, nevermind, but I was one of the younger people there.

Okay, sound system aside, the band, whose name I never did discover, (they do covers, I’m not sure they have a name) wasn’t doing half bad. The crowd was easy and sang along with the more popular songs, but still, the sound system was killing them, or they just weren’t that good to begin with, I couldn’t make up my mind.

So there towards the end, the lead singer, one guitarist, the female background singer, and one of the other guys in the band, got together at the front of the stage, and I knew what song they were going to take a swing at before anyone else did.

“Seven Bridges Road,” I said aloud, and I was right.

If you want to make a complete and total idiot of yourself, Seven Bridges is a good song to attempt. The harmonies in this song, when done right, is an awesome thing. I could see this going badly for this group of people, and I could see it lasting for far too long, and ending only after half the people in the audience sold their souls to Satan to keep it from lasting a moment longer.

The lead singer did this countdown thing with one hand and then the four of them nailed that mother down.

“There are stars
In the Southern sky
Southward as you go….”


“There is moonlight
And moss in the trees
Down the Seven Bridges Road”

Those four people, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and without microphones laid it down. They clearly had practiced this song until each and every singer could weave his or her voice in with the others, flawlessly.

The audience, at first screamed, went wild, and then hushed. The voices demanded a silence where the pauses spoke as loudly as the lyrics and the lead singer, with his hand motions, as adept as any major symphony conductor, led them through Seven Bridges Road and they owned it, owned every second and every word of it, and when the song ended everyone there stood up and cheered and screamed.

That one song made the entire experience worth it. That one song told me these were people skilled beyond where they were playing. That one song convinced me to take another shot at hearing them live again, and I will.

Take Care,

Seven Bridges Road


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Auto Pilot

When Toyota was having issues with their “Unintended acceleration” of new cars that sped up, seemingly, on their own, the spin was “floor mats” had caused this. No one really bought into this, especially the families of those killed in wrecks, but no one ever proved it was anything else either. Toyota was very quick to point out “there was no third party involvement” in the crashes which was their way of saying the vehicles hadn’t been hacked.

I listened to an interview with a Toyota engineer and he was as brutally honest about what was going on as anyone I had ever heard. He said that even with the problems with the vehicles, they were still infinitely safer than if all the computers were taken out and humans took over. He predicted that autonomous cars would be legally mandated one day. This was in 2009. I disagreed with him back then, but now, I’m leaning towards his philosophy.

You may not like the idea of getting into a car with a computer at the helm but the newer the car the less control you actually have. Computers brake your car before you can, saving people from being hit, keeping you from backing into things, and predicting accidents ahead of you while you are jamming out to Justina Beaver on your flash drive that holds 64 gigs of music, and songs by Justina Beaver.

Sooner or later, even with the ever-present danger of cars being hacked, and that’s an issue worthy of its own post, we are still all safer on the whole than letting naked apes with guns and alcohol directing where cars are going to go, and how fast they’re going to get there. Humans tend to overestimate how well they drive, and how well they are protected inside a car or truck. In case you missed it, all the major car companies do all of their testing at less than forty-five miles an hour. Anything faster than that and people tend to be killed or maimed horribly and it would be insanely expensive to try to engineer around it.

What will drive all of this, no pun intended, are the insurance companies. When someone pulled out in front of me a few years ago I wasn’t badly injured at all. But they popped me into an ambulance, took me to a hospital, and did a lot of imaging on my back and neck. A few hours with an MRI machine cost the other guy’s insurance company tens of thousands of dollars. You can bet right now the insurance people are pouring a lot of research money into taking that steering wheel out of your hands. Here’s why…

People do incredibly stupid things on the road and never stop to consider the magnitude of their mistakes. The guy on the bike, by all rights, ought to be dead. The driver of the car that spun out is lucky not to be in prison for murder. The driver of the SUV that flipped didn’t have a damn thing to do with any of this, yet he’s spinning upside down totally unaware that there are morons trying to kill him with their inability to control their emotions or vehicles.

Imagine, if you will, what that incident, which I won’t call an accident, is going to cost. And it could have been a lot worse. The Toyota guy was right; even at their worst computers are still a lot safer than human beings at their worst.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Prince

Today I sat down for the first time ever and listened to Prince. Most people have heard of him and he had many fans. Honestly, I never liked most of his stuff that was overplayed on the radio but then again, I never liked much of anything I heard on the radio. I had a roommate when I was in the Army who worshiped Prince and honestly, it was more humorous than anything else. Steve was so enthralled by Prince that he accepted an offer to take the handlebars of a motorcycle and ride. The ride ended with Steve having one of the greatest road rashes ever and being written up for a variety of offenses. But those were the day when I was focused very much on hard rock and my tastes were much more limited than they are these days.

Since those days of cassette tapes and boom boxes, the music I listen to expanded in all directions and included a lot of genres that weren’t even invented when I was younger. Except for Country. Country is just plain irritating. Music has come a very long way, and not all of it good mind you. Perfect Pitch has turned mediocre singers into superstars and there for a very long time a woman had to be skinny, half naked and implanted to hit the charts. A lot of that is still true, but there’s some change.

A couple of hours deep into my experiment with Prince and I’m still as underwhelmed as I was thirty years ago. Mostly, when I listen to classical music I can see why people love a certain composer. Beethoven’s work, known largely to the public by three or four overplayed pieces, is masterful. Mozart, who lived and died far too quickly, is genius. Even the lesser known composer produced music I can plug into a write for hours.

I can hit Pandora and listen to New Age music, or Celtic music, or even old FM based rock and work for hours. I can make a playlist of long classical music songs and drive back and forth to work all week and never get tired of it.

Pop music, selected songs from certain times of my life, can be cobbled together for a few hours and it’s a good thing.

Country, nope, still irritating.

Prince’s music seems to have reoccurring themes and most people who make music sound a lot like themselves all the time, but Prince seems to be hooked on certain beats and rhythms. It’s compelling, to be sure, but at the same time, I’m not feeling the love. I’m not feeling the same sense of awe so many people I know felt long ago and still feel today.

Supposedly, Eric Clapton, when asked how it felt to be the best guitarist of all times said, “I don’t know, you’ll have to go ask Prince.”

I don’t hear that either.

Overall, I have to say that I’m likely to like this music enough to listen to it again, but I’m not going to dye my hair purple or start wearing black to honor the day Prince died. Much like most of the fuss that goes on when a celebrity dies, Prince’s music is a product now of nostalgia rather than greatness. It reminds a lot of people of better times when there wasn’t that much great music being played, to begin with.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Freedom Of Speech

Several years ago I sat down to have a few beers with a journalism professor. She teaches senior classes on the ethics and laws regarding free speech, as well as trying to teach an increasingly tech-heavy crowd that one hundred and forty characters isn’t enough to read, or to have written.

She tells her new students about a woman who wrote horror stories that involved the murder of little kids. The tales were so gruesome the woman had a hard time finding a publisher and when the books were published everyone and his brother wanted the books banned. However, the courts ruled that a book being in exceedingly poor taste did not violate any laws. It’s a lot like the billboards that line the Interstate that advertise for strip clubs. They may make you turn bright red when your kids ask what a stripper is, but there is nothing illegal about it. That’s free speech. It’s protected under the law. You protect the fringe so it is easier to protect the mainstream.

Your first amendment rights end where someone else’s rights begin, generally speaking. You cannot stand up in a McDonald’s and start making puking noises. They can and they are very likely to ask you to leave or have you arrested if you do not leave. You cannot go to a library and start panhandling for money with your guitar and pet monkey. You cannot pee in public on the side of a tree no matter how badly you have to go. In other situations, all of these actions are legal. Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not, both legal and not legal.

If Jon decides to pull something I’ve written then he has a legal right to do so. I have no legal right to pursue justice against Jon for pulling an article, pulling everything I’ve ever written here down, or if and when he so chooses to do so, Jon can refuse to let me publish here for a good reason, a bad reason, no reason at all, or even if he thinks Gus wants him to. Jon has the right to publish what he damn well pleases to publish. He’s the owner and operator. He does the work here maintaining the site. My ‘write’ to free speech does not include anyone, anywhere, at any time, owing me a platform from which to freely speak.

Moreover, I have a lot of respect for Jon’s judgment. He’s a proven source of stability on the internet which is hard to find. Even if I didn’t think he was legally right, I would have to respect his judgment because it has proven to be good enough to get me here. We have rights, but we also have responsibilities. We have to behave in a responsible manner. We have to choose how outraged we ought to be when something simply doesn’t go the way we thought it might. Sometimes, outrage is a symptom of irresponsibility. We can learn a lot about a kid throwing a fit because he didn’t get the toy he wanted. Of course, from the beginning, the kid had no rights to the toy. More people ought to teach this to kids, and to some adults.

Stop and think about something for a moment, please. We all, every one of us, live in a world built by other people. Roads, houses, buildings, sidewalks, shelves, coffee cups, spoons, lights, cars, trucks, tampons, and even toothpicks. They get paid to do it. Some to their jobs very well. And everyone has the right to build in this world, or even when the situation calls for it, to tear things down and start over. Democracy, as it is practiced here in this country, or was at one time, works when people come together and make things and they make things happen.

You have the freedom, and the right, to say and do what you want to help this or to change it peacefully, or to do nothing at all.

But you have an obligation to be responsible. And you ought to respect what others have built unless you can do better.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Our Sins

One thing you can count on when it comes to Social Media is if you write something controversial you’re going to get three kids of people to talk about it. The first are the hardliners from one side who agree, the second are the hardliners who disagree, and then there are the people who would like to know more. Letting the hardliners from either side slug it out on your Social Media platform is a sure way to rid yourself of people who want to talk about it.

A seventeen-year-old kid was found dead at Lowndes High School a few years back. He was found with his feet sticking out of the end of a rolled up wrestling mat, in a word, upside down, as the mat had been stood up on its end.

The original theory was this kid had dove into the mat to get his shoes, which he had placed in there to avoid having to pay a locker fee, which was common practice in the school, and he had gotten stuck, and he had died from being upside down too long.

His parents didn’t buy that story, and a lot of people didn’t. They got another autopsy performed which showed blunt force trauma to the kid’s neck, and from that point on, there were two factions; those who believed the first autopsy and those who believed the second.

From that point onward, Social Media lit up with those who cried “Accident!” and those who screamed, “Murder!”.  Now, other than the second autopsy, there was no evidence that anyone could be singled out as being involved but the family filed a lawsuit that basically accused nearly one hundred people in the school system, the FBI, and local law enforcement, of murder and covering up the murder. There were protests and counter-protests. There was a candlelight prayer meeting which the “Accident” side said was an attempt to heal the wounds of division while the “Murder” side of things said this was a Ku Klux Klown meeting in disguise.

The lawsuit has been dismissed. Both sides are still equally divided. And no one knows for sure how we wound up with a dead kid in a school. We have a dead seventeen-year-old.

Recently, someone who was on one side of politics shot someone who was on the other side of politics. Take the labels away; a person has been shot by another person. At some point in time, we have to stop demonizing people we disagree with. At some point, we have to back away from the edges on both sides as we have to sit at the same table, beside those who disagree with us, and we have to turn our cell phones off. We have to look at these people and see that we are the same. We have a dead seventeen-year-old and neither side is speaking to one another except to scream. We have people shooting people. We have to find a way to stop this. The building is on fire and we have to work together to put it out because if we cannot work together we are most surely going to burn together.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – The Coyotes of Hickory Head

Generally speaking, I won’t kill anything I have no intentions of eating. Fireants, roaches, and stinging flies are very likely the only living creatures I’ll take a shot at, unprovoked, and they go uncooked. As far as mammals go, I won’t give a rat or a mouse a second glance, unless they are in my home, in which case, they will die. Rodents chew wires and burn houses down. I’ve been in a house fire. I did not like it. My intention is not to be in another.

I’ve made peace with the idea that my dogs are going to come in contact with venomous snakes in general and the Cottonmouth in particular. In sixteen years out here in Hickory Head, only two dogs have ever been bitten, and only one had been bitten more than once. Tyger Linn has gotten zapped four times in two years. She’s partially immune to the bites now so I stopped worrying about her. If she tangles with an Eastern Diamondback, I fear the worse, but that’s the price to be paid for living out in the woods.

Recently, a Coyote got inside my fenced in backyard and couldn’t get back out again. I have a hot wire running on top of the fence that has quite a kick. I saw him twice, but for some reason, the dogs didn’t react to the intruder. Maybe they thought he was just another dog, or maybe the Coyote was a very submissive canine, but at any rate, none of my dogs showed up with war wounds and I’m pretty sure the Coyote wasn’t injured. He was living under a very large pile of brush and someone suggested that I set fire to it, and then wait for him to come out, and shoot him.

I left the gate open at night with dog food on the outside of it, instead.

A very good friend of mine pointed out that Coyotes are actually an invasive species and they’re not native to the Southeast at all, like fire ants and Jehovah’s Witlesses. They’re harmful to native species and I will allow I believe all of this is true, but human beings brought them here, and we have no right to wage war on them for being here.

I’m about to tell you something some of you may believe, most of you will not, but I’ll make my case for it in the end; I believe the Coyotes know who I am and I believe they mean me and mine no harm.

Most of the humans around here will shoot Coyotes on sight, and the Coyotes have gotten good, very good, at knowing where not to be and when not to be there. I’ve fired my shotgun before, twice, in the dead of night, but both times into the ground or the pond bank, and both times to let the Coyotes know they’ve come in too close. They backed off a bit for gunfire, but I’ve also gone out at night to do this without any light. A human who moves in the dark is as frightening to them as a human with a gun. Perhaps more so. Coyotes are creatures of the shadows and I’m not sure they’re comfortable with me slipping in.

Here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it: When Lilith Anne and Tyger Linn got out of the fence they were gone for four days. They spent the night out in the woods, and every night they were out I heard the Coyotes. That was hard, really hard, to listen to, trust me. It’s a sure bet the two groups discovered one another in the wild. Why the Coyotes did not attack my girls I do not know, for surely two tame dogs in the dark woods would be no match for a pack. Yet for reasons I cannot explain, the Coyotes did not kill my girls or even fight them.

Do you think it is possible they recognize Lilith Anne and Tyger Linn as part of my pack, the Pack of the Human who does not kill Coyotes?

My girls came home alive, if not totally well. They Coyotes did not attack them.

I believe the Coyotes and I have an accord, unspoken but true. I believe that they will not hunt my pack and I will not hunt theirs.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Hard Liquor and Liquid Choices

The NFL, always the bellwether entity for American morals and ethics, will begin experimenting with hard liquor advertisement next season. This means as well as being inundated with thirty-second ads that promote the virtues of such high quality 3.4% “beer” such as Bud Light, we will now have the chance to see ads for “Mad Dog 20/20”.

I’m joking about the MD 20/20. I hope. It’s actually some sort of wine. I think.

When I was in the Army we were not allowed to have more than one six pack per man in the barracks at any given time. We were also prohibited from having any amount of hard liquor. These rules were generally and universally ignored. No one, except for myself and a friend of mine, were every punished for having hard liquor in the barracks. Mark Collinger and I bought a quart bottle of vodka and drank it doing shots. We started early on a Saturday afternoon and when I woke up Sunday morning I couldn’t find the bottle. Surely, I thought, he and I did not drink an entire quart of 100 proof vodka. When Mark got up he didn’t have the bottle either. It mystified us as to where it might have gone.

Monday morning rolled around and our First Sergeant walked out in front of the company formation with a nearly empty quart bottle of vodka in one hand. As we all stood at attention he poured the last drops of it out on the pavement and then dropped the bottle. It shattered, of course, and then he went into the week’s business as if what just happened hadn’t happened at all. After his weekly address as to what was going to happen, he then asked for two volunteers to mow grass, pull weeds, and generally do a lot of hot and nasty yard work for ten hours a day for the next five days.

Oh, by the way, the first thing those two volunteers would do would be to clean off the glass in the parking lot. And, also, if you are drinking prohibited alcohol in the barracks, and the First Sergeant should arrive on the scene, you really, really, really, shouldn’t offer him a drink.

Collinger and I “volunteered” before things could escalate. And we knew damn well if we didn’t they would.

Prohibition has always failed and it always will fail. The rules of laws governing the use of drugs, alcohol, sex toys, or advertising have never been effective in stopping anyone from doing any sort of recreational drink, drug, or activity. Mostly, and this is a very broad generalization, the use of drugs and alcohol is a harmless activity that only affects the users and then for a short period of time.

I think the crusade against cigarette smoking has been so very successful because it targeted the pocketbooks of the users, and it pushed them out of public where they couldn’t smoke around nonusers. The NFL’s decision is pretty much a nonissue with me because it will neither create new drinkers or destroy any of the old ones.

Surely, someone out there has a drinking story that involves drinking something you should not have somewhere you shouldn’t have?

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Rush Our Homicides

Last Wednesday, someone tried to kill me, twice. To some of you, this isn’t a surprise, but it had nothing to do with politics, red headed women, or the Oxford Comma. Instead, this all came about from me doing something that seems to freak people out because it’s so rarely done in this part of the world, and no, I’m not talking about using complete sentences or enunciating three syllable words. I drove according to the laws and regulations of driving a vehicle. This will get you killed in South Georgia.

When I go to work I use a different route than when I leave work. First, there are us people who get up early, make coffee and breakfast, shower, shave, and then travel at a sane pace knowing we’re going to be early. We also know the Others, who get up seventeen seconds before they’re going to be late, put on yesterday’s jeans and a shirt that was hanging on something in their bedroom, grab two Twinkies and a warm coke off the table as they rush out and hope no one sees them putting their shoes on with no socks as they’re driving.

I actually left a little early. I wanted to listen to some Bach on the road and I also needed to get some gas. There’s a window of time, just before seven-thirty, where the only people on the road are those who arrive early, like me or those whose work takes them on the road. We are a hard working bunch, as is anyone who takes the trouble to get up and make ready for the day, but we will soon beset by those who hit the roads like jackrabbits cranked on meth who have 110-volt wires glue to parts of their bodies that I cannot mention in mixed company. Suffice it to say these people are a hazard to anything and everything on the roads.

One of them tried to kill me. Twice.

The gas station I like to go to is perfect for getting into and getting out of. It’s on a corner where there’s a traffic light. I have the timing of this light down to a science. If the light is red on the side street I know it will be green on the main road for a full minute. If it’s green on the side road I know I have about twenty seconds to hit it before it turns. I have to be quick, but I do not have to be fast. I got this.

I make it out of the parking lot and onto the main road perfectly. Smooth as silk and now I’m heading back towards the road I have to turn left on to go to work. It’s red as I’m leaving the gas station and all I have to do is maintain my speed and I can make that light when it turns green.

I’m in the inside lane, the lane closest to the centerline, where I should be to turn left at the light. A white minivan pulls out of a driveway, crosses over the outside lane, and pulls out in front of me. Near Death Experience Number One. I have to swerve over to the outside lane to miss her. She sees me in her rearview mirror, panics, and pulls into the outside lane, nearly hitting me again. NDEN2.

What the actual f&^%?

I have no idea what to do or where to go and this woman stops, dead still, blocking me from doing much more that changing the music from Bach to Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe” title track from that album. We will now ride with some Old School Guitar solo as ammo for the cursing that will continue until my butt unclenches from the seat of the truck.

The woman pulls away and I follow her. The light is red when we arrive at the next intersection. She can hear the guitar stalking her from behind, She knows she has failed in her assassination attempt and the Ghost of Frank Zappa will haunt her as my revenge.

It’s not Rocket Surgery, people.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.